March 14, 2018

Mat Kaplan to give SIU guest lecture March 23

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – He guided thousands through the Great American Eclipse at Saluki Stadium last summer. Now, Mat Kaplan returns to Southern Illinois University Carbondale this month, to give a guest lecture for the campus community.

Kaplan, host and producer of the popular Planetary Radio show, acted as master of ceremonies during SIU’s eclipse program at Saluki Stadium. He will be give the lecture at 9 a.m. Friday, March 23, in room 440 at the Neckers Building, home of SIU’s College of Science.

The hour-long event, titled “You Live in the Golden Age of Exploration,” is free and open to SIU students, faculty and staff.

Media advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover Mat Kaplan’s guest lecture. The event begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 23, in room 440 at the Neckers Building on the SIU campus. Contact Bob Baer at 618/453-2729 or for more information.

Lecture precedes eclipse documentary premiere

The lecture precedes the premiere of SIU’s eclipse documentary, which Kaplan will also attend.

“In the Shadow,” an hour-long look at the run-up to the Great American Eclipse in Southern Illinois on Aug. 21, 2017, was created by the professionals and students in SIU’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. It will premiere Saturday, March 24 at Shryock Auditorium on the SIU campus. 

Bob Baer, specialist in the Department of Physics and co-chair of the university’s eclipse steering committee, said Kaplan is well-known across the nation and in Southern Illinois, where his radio show plays early on Saturday and Sunday mornings on WSIU public radio.

During last year’s total eclipse, Kaplan partnered with SIU to emcee Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium and also hosted a Planetary Radio live event on the SIU campus that month.

 “We invited him back for the premiere of the documentary, and as part of his visit, he will be spending some time with students in a few SIU classes,” Baer said. “Mat is an excellent public speaker and has a passion for space exploration.”

Guest lecture takes place in astronomy class

The lecture will be part of a regular astronomy course taught by April Hendley, senior lecturer in the physics department. Baer said he was thrilled to learn Kaplan’s schedule would allow him to give the guest lecture and decided to throw it open to the campus community.

 “There is a lot of excitement about astronomy and space exploration these days as is evident in the title of his talk,” Baer said. “It is a real treat for our students and guests to be able to hear from him.”

Eclipse memories remain fresh

Baer was a key member of the SIU team that prepared for the thousands of visitors that descended on the university that weekend leading up to the eclipse. With the six months that have passed since then, Baer said its memory still excites him.

“I still love to hear people tell me about their eclipse experience and how it has made a lifelong impact on them,” he said. “I've attended a few national conferences and meetings since the eclipse.

“There were a lot of events out there, but nobody put on an eclipse event like SIU did. The variety and quality of what we did over 4 days was awe inspiring. As a Saluki, I am most proud of the way the campus community worked together to put on what I consider to be the best national eclipse event.”

Planning is already underway for a second eclipse event that will traverse the area once again in 2024, he said.